Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Packet of Seeds

Are you ready for a random story?  (Ok let’s be honest, if you’ve read The Small Seed for any amount of time, random stories aren’t really anything out of the norm!)

Here goes. Last month I decided that I needed to start wearing gloves when I do the dishes, as this winter has really done a number on my hands.  So I bought a box of gloves. But as I opened the box and pulled them out, out dropped a packet of flower seeds. (Random right? I felt like I was a kid again with a box of crackerjacks!)

Since we don't really have any place to plant flowers, I set the packet of seeds aside and didn’t think much more about it. A few days later I was cleaning up and saw the packet, so I took it to the garbage with the intent to toss it, but for some reason I couldn’t do it. 

Funny enough, it’s now been over a month and I still have that packet of seeds that I can’t bring myself to get rid of.

As I saw this packet of seeds on my counter this morning, I had a little aha moment, as I remembered this story:

“ A sweet seven-year-old show[ed] her grandfather a small tomato plant she had started from seed as part of a second-grade school project.
She explained that from one tiny seed would come a plant. And if the plant were cared for, it would grow many tomatoes that would each have many seeds.
She said, “And if all of those seeds were planted and grew more tomatoes, and you planted all of those seeds, in a few seasons you would have millions of tomatoes.”
“All,” she said in amazement, “from one little seed.”
But then she said, “I almost killed my plant. I left it in a dark room and forgot to water it. When I remembered the plant, it was all wilted and dead looking. I cried because I thought of all of those millions of tomatoes that would never grow.”
She was then excited to tell her grandfather about the “miracle” that happened.
She explained, “Momma said maybe the plant wasn’t dead. Maybe all it needed was some water and some light to bring life back.
“And she was right. I gave the plant some water, and I put it in the window for light. And guess what?” she asked. “It came back to life, and now it’s going to grow millions of tomatoes!”
Her small tomato plant, so full of potential but so weakened and wilted from unintentional neglect, was strengthened and revived through the simple ministration of water and light by the little girl’s loving and caring hands.”

My aha moment was this. The thing that is killing me about throwing out the seeds is that they represent potential. Like the tomato plant, in each packet of seeds lies hundreds if not thousands of flowers, waiting to bloom. Call me a packrat (which I’m not) or a tree hugger (which I may be), but in a strange way this little packet is symbolic. 

This packet of seeds is like each of us. Look around. Everyone around you (including you, your relatives, your neighbors) are all children of God. Each of us, and them, and you, has divine worth and a divine heritage. Our potential for good is endless!

As we fulfill our potential, and help others fulfill theirs, we find joy. But how do we fulfill our potential? I'm no expert, but I think it has more to do with helping others, than furthering our agenda. I think it's more about what we give, do and become, and not about what we look like or have (the world has sure turned that one on its head hasn't it?!).  

Perhaps you (or someone you know) are feeling like the tomato plant, “weakened and wilted from unintentional neglect”. Don’t toss out your packet of seeds just yet! Find some way to serve someone else today. See your own potential to do good, to bless others, to create beauty, and lift those that are around you.

Truly we are all small seeds. Can you imagine how beautiful the world would be if we each did what we could to bloom and serve and give, right where we are, however big or small?

I think I’ll go do some planting.



Sunday, April 6, 2014

Scripture Sundays: O Give Thanks!

What a wonderful weekend. My heart is full of gratitude, and sings with David's in Psalm 136, "O give thanks to the Lord!"

Lately I've been yearning to feel centered again, and this week I've been able to do that. Everything has found it's proper place, and even the sun was shining!

General Conference brought me so many answers, and funny enough (after my post this week) steered me in a very different direction than the questions I had written down! I guess that's the beautiful thing about revelation.

I am ready to yet again turn over a new leaf, start a new chapter, and realign my life more closely with the best version of myself. I'm grateful for eternal reminders and heavenly tugging that come when we try to do those things that bring us closer to God. And I'm especially grateful this weekend for the messages that seemed to be sent from Heaven just for me.

Here are a few pictures of what was a very good day!

Happy Sunday!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

General Conference: Take 2

Over the past few weeks I've been hearing from some of you regarding a post I wrote about my church's semi-annual General Conference (found here). Well believe it or not, 6 months have passed and I'm looking forward to another conference this weekend! General Conference has become a type of spiritual New Years for me, and I can't wait.

Some of you asked for more details about what I do to prepare for and apply conference (sorry I wasn't very specific in my last post, to be honest it's nothing special so I felt silly writing it out!), but for those of you who asked, this post is for you!

Just don't have too high of expectations ok?

Here goes:

1- Take out a piece of paper. I usually just use a quarter sheet, but here I used a half sheet with a sharpie so it shows up easier. I put something on the top, like General Conference and the date. Rocket science I know. Step one done.

2- Do a little spiritual self-assessment. This is where I take out my figurative spiritual scale and caliper to determine where I am and where I want to be spiritually. For me it always helps to start with prayer, and then think through some questions like: Am I currently able to feel God's love in my life? Do I think of others more than myself? What is out of line in my life spiritually? Am I seeking spiritual direction in my responsibilities as a wife/mother/blogger/etc?

3- Write down questions that you want answered during General Conference. Here I try to think of specific questions, many of which relate to how I want to improve from step 2, and then write them down! I like to write them in question form rather than as statements (i.e. "How can I be more selfless" instead of "I want to be more selfless") as it seems to help me more easily recognize answers.

Two areas that I love to focus my questions on are: 1) What do I need to do to develop spiritually in my current roles (for me right now a wife, mother, friend, blogger, co-worker etc.), and 2) What Christ-like attributes do I most need to work on right now (think faith, virtue, meekness, diligence, obedience, service, patience, etc)?

4- Pray. I know I've already mentioned this a few times, but it's worth mentioning again. Praying about my goals invites God into the process, and let's be honest, He knows way more about both my potential and shortcomings than even I do. Sometimes I'm prompted to write down additional questions, other times my focus is turned away from something I originally wrote.

5- Write "To-Do". At the bottom of my paper I like to write "To-Do" simply to remind me to take notes of things I feel prompted to do while listening to the conference, and to keep my mind open. These promptings can be anything from reaching out to someone, memorize a scripture that was quoted, re-read one of the talks, or one from October "prepare earlier with things for Tillie Rose to do during Conference!"

5- Enjoy Conference! and write down thoughts and promptings, both regarding questions and To-Do's. During conference I don't try to write down everything I hear (I can always go back after and re-read!). I instead try to focus on the answers to my questions and what I need to do.

6- After the Conference, compile the notes and questions into one document. Usually the week after Conference I try to sit down and make one document that combines my questions, to-do's, notes and answers all together. If there seemed to be a theme of the conference for me I also write that at the top of my page (last year when I was pregnant with the twins my theme was "The Future Is As Bright As Your Faith).

So in the end it looks something like this:

General Conference April 2014: Theme
- How can I be more loving to Dave?
  --Answer 1
  --Answer 2
-What Christlike Attribute should I focus on?
 -- Answer 1

- Call my mom

7- Print out the document and keep it where you can use it! I like to print mine out in a quarter sheet, laminate it and use it as a bookmark for my scriptures (as you can see in this picture from my prior post). It helps me refer to it often, which keeps me focused over the next 6 months.

As I just reread through what I wrote, I still feel a little silly for typing it out as it's pretty basic! But maybe basic is good, because then I actually do it and stick with it.

Also I get it if this idea totally doesn't work for you--you may prefer to listen and soak it all in without the hassle of notes and "homework"! If it doesn't, just do what works for you!

More than anything, if you choose to watch the conference I hope you enjoy it and feel uplifted. Along with my notes, I'm also planning on plenty of time to cuddle with these three (and Tillie Rose of course), enjoy a Belgian waffle bar (maybe a new tradition?!) and sleeping in (oh wait, I still have kids!).



Sunday, March 30, 2014

Scripture Sundays: You Are Not Alone

Hey friends,

I hope you all had a great week. It was more than a little crazy for me and our family, and though the details aren't important, I have to admit I'm grateful to write today. I think I’ve taken for granted what a blessing this little place on the internet has been to me. 

Today's Scripture Sunday is one that I wish I would have clung to more this week. 
You are not alone. 

All too often we see ourselves in isolation, and forget that there are so many around us that love us, are praying for us, and cheering us on. Even if we can't see them. It's easy and tempting, and I might add makes Satan happy, when we feel we're alone and unimportant. 

You're not alone, and you're certainly not unimportant! Even if you weren't important to anyone else (which isn't likely) you're important to God. You're His child, and He loves you. And if you matter to Him, that's all that matters. 

via Brian Kershishnik
Fear not, there are more with you than you'll ever know.



Friday, March 21, 2014

We're leaving on a jetplane

We are leaving this morning to see family! Living on the east coast sure has its perks, but the fact that we need to travel so far to see any family isn't one of them.

But when you get moments like this one from Christmas, it's all worth it!

Can't wait for this weekend of family, weddings, dancing, fancy dinners, and a needed rest from the daily grind!

I thought I would leave you with this little quote that I saw and loved this week. We're all in the middle of this journey--keep pressing on and hoping on!

Happy Friday!



Sunday, March 16, 2014

Be of Good Cheer

Today's scripture is one that perhaps I need more than anyone.

I have a tendency to be so focused on improvement that I sometimes miss the beauty of where I am. I can be so busy trying to be ye therefore perfect that sometimes I need to take a good dose of the be of good cheer in John 16:33.

via Megan Knorpp on Etsy
It is touching to me that in this verse the Savior commands us to be of good cheer, even when we are right in the middle of our own journey laced with imperfection, sin and weakness. He doesn't want us to wait until we are perfect to be of good cheer, he wants us to be right now.

Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. 

What is even more special about this verse is it teaches us how. We can be of good cheer even amidst the sorrow of this world by trusting that the Savior overcame all of it. Knowing that He overcame everything somehow makes it easier for me to get back up again when I fall short of who I want to be. It gives me hope to keep trying when I fail. It helps me trust that my effort is worth it even when I can't seem to move past my own sometimes silly and sometimes damning weaknesses. Because He overcame the world, someday with His help I can too.

And in the meantime, I can use this scriptural stop-to-smell-the-roses to help me be of good cheer right now.



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Best Predictor of Our Discipleship

Hey Friends,

I hope you know I don't take the term friend lightly. Or at least for the last 2 weeks I haven't.

For whatever reason, for the past month there's been a theme in my life. (Does that ever happen to you--where you feel like God has a syllabus for your life and he has specific lessons for you to learn?) This month's theme for me has been the importance and power of friendship.

At first glance talking about friendship seems a little cliche. But honestly, after the last few weeks I feel that friendship is one of the most important topics I could write about. I believe that one of the best predictors of our discipleship is whether we are a good friend. Yes, I feel that strongly about it.

And if that is one of the best predictors, I have a long way to go.

I'm going to admit something here, even though I feel a little silly doing it. Where this all really originated was a few weeks ago on my birthday. (Now here is where I feel silly.) For most of the day on my birthday I was feeling like a loner. Yes, I was turning 30, kind of a big year, but my husband was out of town, and for the most part I thought no one cared about me. My day was filled with diapers, dishes, and...well I was home alone with 3 kids under 2 so you get the picture. Now I know, it shouldn't be about me, I'm 30 for heaven's sake and I should have grown out of caring long ago! But I haven't. And maybe we never do, because we all want to be remembered and loved. But the point of the story is that's how I felt.

The story has a happy ending, and it turns out a few dear friends threw a surprise dinner (that I completely didn't expect), but perhaps the happier ending was the introspection that it led me to. Am I a good friend? What was the last friend's birthday that I remembered? Do I reach out to others, or wait for them to reach out to me? Do I spend more time talking about myself than listening?

I realized that I take way more than I give in my friendships, and I need to be a better friend. The sad reality is that not only will I lose out if I don't become a better friend, but my daughters likely won't learn how to be a good friend either.

I hope that someday I will be the kind of friend that people can call when they're in a pinch, that they can talk to about the tough stuff and never feel judged, that they can ask for help, or that they can come to no matter the time of day or night (and I'm not great at night, so this would be a big one!).

In essence, I want to be like the Savior.

At some point in all this introspection I was led to this talk. It's amazing. You should read it. There was one quote that just seemed to jump out of the page and into my heart that I have been inspired (and haunted!) by ever since:

Truly the Savior was and is our friend, and we are like him when we are a true friend. He laid down his very life for us, and I hope I can learn to do the same (in some small way) for the people I'm blessed enough to call friends.


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